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Practical Recipes for Student Success – closing the student attainment gap at the University of Derby. Jean Mutton, Student Experience Project Manager, [email protected] HERAG Think Tank, 23 rd June 2014. Overview. This presentation will cover: BME attainment gap - background

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Practical Recipes for Student Success – closing the student attainment gap at the University of Derby

Jean Mutton, Student Experience Project Manager, [email protected]

HERAG Think Tank, 23rd June 2014


This presentation will cover:

  • BME attainment gap - background
  • Research/horizon scanning
  • Derby approach
  • PReSS
  • Results
  • What next for Derby?
  • Q/A

Black, minority ethnic students

= BME students

derby university
Derby University
  • Derby is a modern (post 1992) university with a diverse student body of 23,000 +
  • 1 in 5 define themselves as ‘Black Minority Ethnic’ (inc International, EU and Home students)
  • Widening Participation agenda across HE
  • Nationally, the ‘good honours’ (1st or 2i) attainment gap of UK-domiciled BME students in 2010/11 was 18.4% we asked - what is the picture at Derby?

(Ref: ECU ‘Equality in HE: statistical report 2012’)

bme attainment gap
BME Attainment Gap
  • The educational attainment gap in schools has a significant impact on who actually goes to university.
  • There is already a significant gap by the age of 5.
  • Children from poor backgrounds are only half as likely to go to university as their more affluent counterparts
  • In higher education the ‘social’ and ‘gender’ gaps persist and can be subject specific
  • The biggest attainment gap within higher education exists between white indigenous students and BME students

Source: Abrahams, D. (2012)

post racial and super diversity

”it is crucial that we don’t restrict our notion of diversity to issues of ethnicity, faith and immigration status – as though it were in a separate silo from other kinds of diversity – disability, gender, age and sexual orientation – which is what people in the equality field also mean when they talk about equality of opportunity and inclusion” Dr. Sarah Spencer (Senior Fellow) Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS)

Remove labels and move away from the “deficit model” to a model that makes positive use of ‘social’ and ‘cultural capital’

Move from ‘integration’ to ‘inclusion’. Much current practice is the former……

Post Racial and Super Diversity…
horizon scanning for solutions
Horizon Scanning for Solutions
  • We looked across the sector, internationally, nationally and here at Derby for best practice and research into what works.
  • We joined the Higher Education Race Action group HERAG which is an HE group looking into race in HE, staff and students
  • We made contact with staff in other universities who were researching into BME attainment through networks such as RAISE‘
  • Disparity in Student Attainment Project (DISA)
    • A joint venture between Coventry and Wolverhampton
  • All Parliamentary Party Group Inquiry response.

One Way


Two Way

Student Pedagogies

Fit to Submit

Assignment Types

Quality of Relationships

Assignment Brief

Support Signposting

Blind Marking

Dissertation Marking

Empathic Pedagogies

Relationship with the University


Submission Type Flexibility


Autonomy in Learning

Academic Processes


Cultural and Social Capital

Spiky Degree Profiles

Folk pedagogies

Pygmalion Effect

Psychological Processes

Understanding Classification

Aspiration Raising

Encouraging Responsibility and Accountability

Internal vs



University Culture at Home


Locus of Control

Students: Vox Pops

Being and becoming

Information for Parents

Role Models


bme attainment gap at derby1
BME Attainment Gap at Derby
  • BME attainment gap for 2011/12 by individual module grade
what works
What Works?

No Magic Bullet

Post-racial, inclusive approach required

A suite of different strategies required

  • Confidence and aspiration raising
  • Development of inclusive teaching practices and promotion of a partnership approach - (anticipatory and proactive)
  • Continual enhancement of assessment methods and approaches including the promotion of assessment choice
  • Development of inclusive feedback approaches
  • Promotion of discipline specific academic writing skills
  • Be reflective – review strategies regularly and ensure the needs of ALL learners are being met

Easy for staff to access and use

  • Packs are downloadable as word documents for easy customisation
  • Blog format allows users to post feedback and suggestions
the derby approach
The Derby Approach
  • PReSS!
  • But also…

…Preparing to Start University (VO)

…Students as partners

…Students as mentors

…Transition Pedagogies

…And more!

press going forwards
PReSS Going forwards
  • Challenges:
  • More than action research
  • How else can we assess impact?
  • Is the project ‘out of control’?
  • Need more suggestions for packs
  • Feedback on usefulness of existing packs
  • Abrahams, D. (2012) Educational attainment in BME communities [accessed 6th May 2013]
  • QAA (2007) Subject benchmark statement Education Studies (2nd edition) [accessed 6th May 2013]
  • QAA (2013) UK quality code for higher education chapter B4: enabling student development and achievement. [accessed 6th May 2013]
  • Singh, G. (2013) Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) attainment: interventions and next steps [accessed 6th May 2013]
  • Spencer, S. (2012) Super diversity and the city [accessed 6th May 2013]